Back to articles

Hospital CHIP Program Brings About Life Change


Sitting on the bench at Curves, a local fitness facility, Norma Hamblen felt useless and embarrassed. She was a fitness tech, but her health belied her role. She was in the worst shape she had even been in her life. Her legs were so swollen that she could barely walk, and the only way she could work was to sit on the sidelines with her legs elevated. She was also dealing with stage three kidney failure, and her doctor was recommending chemotherapy.

For two years, she had experienced increasing joint and knee pain. After visiting many specialists in the search for the cause, she now was taking multiple medications for blood pressure, which at one point peaked at 225/135, and had test results indicating serious kidney malfunction.

“I thought the way I looked must scare everyone away,” Hamblen said. “I just felt there had to be a better alternative.”

She began researching at the library and on the Internet and learned that animal protein is very hard on kidney function. She was also encouraged by friends at Curves and her health care provider to look into the hospital’s CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Project) classes.

Ginny Gabel, community health education coordinator at Tillamook County General Hospital, had visited Curves, explained the CHIP program and left brochures. As a result, Norma and two friends choose to attend the classes. The results were life changing.

“The 5-week program taught that health comes by the choices I make, and I can have control over my destiny,” said Hamblen.

The changes were not hard. At the end of the program, Norma’s nephrologist informed her that her test numbers had changed enough so that she could postpone taking prednisone and undergoing chemo treatments.

Norma’s cholesterol and blood sugar levels are now in a normal range. She saw the largest difference with her LDL (unhealthy fat), which dropped from 400 to 83. A healthy level is 100 or lower. These numbers had been elevated all her life, and her doctors were elated with the improvements and she has been able to discontinue taking several medications.

“CHIP and the Curves exercise program have given me my life back,” said Hamblen. “It’s an answer to prayer and a joy to get up every day thoroughly appreciating my life.”

The next CHIP program will be held in September 13 through October 20, 2010, at the Rockaway Community Church. A one-hour information and registration session must be attended and will be held at the following locations: September 1 at St. Mary’s Church Hall in Rockaway; September 2 at Nehalem Bay United Methodist Hall; September 7 at Garibaldi City Hall; and September 8 at Rockaway Community Church. All sessions are at 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., and you need only attend one.

For more information about CHIP and other life-changing community health education classes, visit us online at or call us at (503)-815-2270.